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Hourly construction wages surpass $30 for first time ever

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week that the average hourly construction wage increased to $30.18 in September, which is up from $30 in August and 3.1 percent higher than September 2017. An Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) analysis says this is the first time ever that average construction wages for U.S. workers have exceeded $30 per hour, according to www.constructiondive.com. Construction hourly pay is now 10.7 percent higher than the average wage for workers in all other private nonfarm industries, which is now $27.24.

Construction employment in September rose by 23,000 jobs; however, AGC officials said the number of qualified workers is declining, and even pay increases might not be enough to adequately staff their projects. In fact, the construction unemployment rate in September 2018 was only 4.1 percent—the lowest since 2000.

A recent AGC-Autodesk survey reported that 62 percent of industry respondents said their firms had increased hourly pay for craft workers, and 25 percent said they offered incentive and bonus pay. Another 25 percent reported their companies improved employee benefit programs, but only 11 percent said their firms had no plans to increase pay and/or benefits in the near future.

Executive and managerial-level pay also is increasing in the face of labor shortages; in April, an Engineering News-Record analysis of industry compensation data reported these salaries increased 4 percent between 2013 and 2017.

To combat the labor shortage, AGC's updated Workforce Development Plan recommends increasing funding for career and technical education programs for students and adults; expanding the use of Pell college grants for short-term certificate programs; making information about industry opportunities and potential earnings more available to construction students; reforming immigration policies; offering more apprenticeship programs; and increasing industry recruiting.


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